Alliance 2002 - A Taylorcraft Reunion

Words based on "The Joy is in the Journey" by Fred Rex; pictures by Rob Lees

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Read Capt Jon's version, or Bruce Patten's tale.

Capt Jon and son Jason in Traci, Robert Lees and I in TRex, and Scott and Ruth in his Model 19 all met in Laconia NH in the late afternoon on the 4th July in an effort to put some miles between us and a front that was coming in to New England the following morning.

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We were about two hours out and just about to our destination when Scott came over the radio with, "My oil pressure is dropping, and I need to get to the closest available field".

Robert was flying at the time, and it is amazing how the gentle meditation of droning across the countryside is immediately replaced with lightning quick reflexes on my Garmin Pilot III GPS, when receiving a call such as that.

Thankful for the six times I read the manual cover to cover and even practising the "go to nearest" function, I sprang into action. As I retrieved and relayed airport designator and bearing, Capt Jon flew directly to the grass strip selected, and made a low pass as Scott started making a gentle spiral and concentrated on flying the airplane.

I got to see first hand one of the huge advantages of travelling together with a couple of other planes. We all made it safely to "terra firma" and found ourselves on a beautiful little 2600 foot strip, right next to the Hudson River called Garnsey's.

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Short final for Garnsey
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Garnsey Field, NY


Now, it is just about at this point in my reflection that I must mention the one thing that stood out about all else, as we traversed the planet in one, of the most outstanding engineering marvels of our time, the Taylorcraft BC12D.

That one thing is the people that you meet. There is only one thing cooler than 3 Taylorcrafts gently (most times....) touching down and parking neatly side by side on a beautiful grass strip as the mighty Hudson meanders on beside, and that is the people you find at your sometimes unplanned destinations.


To make a long story short, It was the 4th of July, the Garnsey family was having one of those great American barbecues, they fed us, gave us a bathroom to use, and let us set up camp on one of the most picturesque smooth as butter grass strips I have ever been on. After checking on Scott's plane, and a quick refuelling trip to Saratoga City, we had a swim in the Hudson and turned in for the night. saratoga.jpg (29332 bytes)
Refuelling at Saratoga


The following morning Scott made the decision not to go on. His freshly overhauled engine was having problems and not knowing from whence they came, he made a good aviation decision. He made other arrangements to get home so he could, live, kick some mechanics butt, and hopefully take care of the problem, in that order.

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Ruth & Scott


We continued on across the Finger Lakes and the pristine patchwork wonder of upstate New York. After a lunch stop at Jamestown, we arrived at Barber Field at around 5 p.m. on the 5th.

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Lunch at Jamestown, NY
Jason, Jon, Fred & Rob


The fly in was great, as usual. Many thanks to Forrest, Patty, Local EAA chapter, Bruce, Bob, and everyone who had a part in making it a success.

For those of you who have never been, one of my most memorable moments, aside from meeting all my fellow Taylorcraft friends and geeking out on Taylorcrafts, was sitting under the shade tree on the west end of the field just watching the menagerie.

The jump plane was taking off every half hour or sooner, the RC aircraft were buzzing around the east end of the field, jumpers under canopy rustling overhead, Stinsons, Pietenpols, Aeroncas, Wacos, Supercubs and Stearmans and lots and lots of Taylorcrafts coming in on 26, being parked, fuelled and taxied. There were ultralights buzzing with that unmistakable Rotax whine, a Storch slow flighting at about 2 mph....(seemed like it anyway...). An old fashioned Wurlitzer organ on a trailer churned paper instruction rolls that made the pipes play, the bass drum boom, and the cymbal clang, producing a carnival like effect contributing to an already over stimulating situation.


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Barber Field

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Saturday morning fly-by
of the old factory

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Faces to names (L to R)
Richard Young,
Nan and Ron Coleman
Randall Reihing

Several times during the day I just sat in one of the comfortable chairs under the shade tree drinking in the sights, the smells, and the sounds, just enjoying being able to be there.


Sunday morning found us in quiet Taylorcraft meditation, humming over the Ohio countryside. The mist hung in the valleys as the little Continentals propelled us into an ever increasing haze.

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Jon & Jason

About an hour out, we had to turn back. Visibility had deteriorated to less than 2 miles and us in our two Taylorcrafts hooked up with two more, - Mike Sargent and Glen Thompson in 235 and Bruce Patton in 184. On landing at Corry Lawrence, PA, once again we were showered with undeserved graciousness.

Our hostess Pat made arrangements to have us dropped at a nice little restaurant that was serving an all you can eat breakfast brunch. Anyone who knows me, knows I thought I ended up in heaven. Unlimited bacon, sausage, eggs, fruits, French toast, fritters and pancakes, we ate like kings, made a call, and our hosts picked us up and brought us back to the airport.

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N21235, 1938-built

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Corry Lawrence, PA


The decision was made to press on and it was not too long 'til we were again hitting the "go to nearest" button on our GPS's.

Electrical providence found us at the hospitality of Bob Campbell and his lovely wife Anita at yet another beautiful little grass strip that traversed across the backyards of several houses, in western New York. It was an hour before Bob came out of the nearby house, I guess we all "slipped" in rather quietly. He and his wife had been eating lunch and didn't happen to hear or see us.


What a great but short lived time we had with them. They gave us cold drinks, use of the bathroom, and invited us in to use the computer and check the weather. This time we had 4 Taylorcrafts, propellers aligned, stepped prettily in a row.

Not wanting to miss such a unique photo opportunity, Bob called the local newspaper, and his 85 year old, once school teacher, now friend, came on out with his wife and grandson for a story and some photos.

After the old fellow got off of his precarious perch on the lawn tractor, I asked the little fellow if he wanted to go for a ride. "ME?" he exclaimed, "IN THE AIRPLANE??". I told him yes him in the airplane, and after he got permission from his grandpa (good thing his parents weren't there.....), I proceeded to receive one of life's most treasureable moments, giving a little fellow his first ride in an airplane.

What a smile he had after we touched down - ear to ear, the only bigger smile I have seen was when Robert had taken another young lad up the day before while we were at Alliance. I bet they are still grinning and I know they will never forget it. What a gift......FOR ME.......not the kid.

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Randolph Field, NY


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Post-Journal, Jamestown NY,
July 8 2002


Well, Bob and Anita wanted us to stay, and we surely would have liked to, but we were only an hour and a half out of Alliance with 6 or 7 more hours to go. We thanked them heartily and pressed on.

When we finally broke through the haze, we had only enough daylight to make it to Hamilton NY, where we pitched the tents for the night.

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Hamilton, NY


There was no one there but we had been there before, and we knew where the good Pizza place was. After supper we joked around and went to sleep.


The following morning found it calm and clear, we stopped at Glens Falls for breakfast, and following some refuelling and oil checks, said good-by to the Maine boys.

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Final for Glenn's Falls


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Jon checks the oil

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Mike and Bruce

They angled further north and we pointed the noses with a nice little following tail wind that gave us a 125mph groundspeed, toward DAW in Rochester New Hampshire where we had started our journey.

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184 and 235


Well, I hope I gave you a taste of the joy that can be had in the journey. We didn't always get to where we wanted to, but with a good attitude, a 1946 piece of aviation history, and the wonderful people with you and along the way, you sure can have a splendid time.

Many thanks and fondest regards to all the people who have helped me in my journey. Many thanks to C.G. Taylor for coming up with a design worth preserving.

Most of all, thanks to our Creator, who ever that may be to you, who gave us a life to live, and a beautiful world to live it in.

Fred Rex, Reading, MA, Taylorcraft BC12D N43624

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Read Capt Jon's version, or Bruce Patten's tale.

Other Links: home page
Capt Jon's Taylorcraft Hangar and his New England Taylorcraft Network
Taylorcraft Owners Club and Foundation